CBS insists ‘changes have already been made’ to its internal processes after Gayle King slammed her own network for the way it promoted part of her interview with WNBA star Lisa Leslie about the late Kobe Bryant.
The CBS This Morning anchor has faced fierce backlash after the clip, which was posted online, only showed King asking Leslie about the 2003 rape accusation against Bryant that was later dismissed.
King addressed the controversy in a video posted on social media on Thursday, saying CBS posted a ‘salacious’ clip that was ‘taken out of context’.
CBS responded hours later saying the excerpt ‘did not reflect the nature and tone’ of King’s complete interview.
‘Gayle conducted a thoughtful, wide-ranging interview with Lisa Leslie about the legacy of Kobe Bryant. An excerpt was posted that did not reflect the nature and tone of the full interview,’ CBS said in a statement.
‘We are addressing the internal process that led to this and changes have already been made.’
It is not clear what those changes are.
In King’s video addressing the controversy, she opened her nearly four-minute video by saying that she had read the comments on social media concerning the clip.
‘I know if I’d only seen the clip that you saw, I’d be extremely angry too,’ she said.
‘I am mortified, I am embarrassed, and I am angry. Unbeknownst to me, my network put up a clip from a very wide-ranging interview, totally taken out of context, and when you see it that way it’s very jarring. It’s jarring to me.’
King revealed that she didn’t know about the clip until she started receiving calls from people asking things like: ‘What the hell are you doing?’ and she had no idea what they were talking about.
She said she had been advised to ‘say nothing, just let it go’ and wait for the controversy to run its course.
‘But that’s not good enough for me. Because I really want people to understand what happened here and how I’m feeling about it,’ she said.
King said her interview with Leslie, who had known Bryant since he was 18, was wide ranging and covered his career, his passion, his sense of humor and the 2003 rape allegation.
‘Yes, we talked about that court case because that court case has also come up [since his death],’ King said as she defended asking the question.
‘I wanted to get Lisa’s take on it as a friend, what she thought, where that should stand.’
[email protected] legend @LisaLeslie told @GayleKing that Kobe Bryant’s legacy is “not complicated” for her despite his 2003 rape accusation.
“I don’t think it’s something that we should keep hanging over his legacy.” https://t.co/qj6MVvOaqX pic.twitter.com/9qtVORobLO
She said she asked several follow-up questions to ensure that Leslie’s ‘position and perspective were very clear’.
‘It was very powerful when she looked me in the eye, as a member of the media, to say it’s time for the media to leave it alone and to back off,’ King said.
‘I insisted that that part be in the interview, because I thought it put a nice button on that part of the conversation.
‘When the interview aired, we had a great reaction to it. I talked to Lisa last night and she was okay with the interview. I felt really good.
‘So for the network to take the most salacious part, when taken out of context, and put it on the internet for people who didn’t see the whole interview, is very upsetting to me.
‘That’s something I’m going to have to deal with with them. There will be a very intense discussion.’
She closed the video with a few comments about her own relationship with Bryant.
‘I have been with Kobe Bryant on many social occasions. He was very kind and warm to me, and I felt that we had a friendly relationship,’ she said.
‘I too am mourning his loss. I still am shocked by it. It’s tragic and untimely and the last thing I would want to do is disparage him at this particular time.
‘I hope people understand this. I felt I had to say something and let everybody know no disrespect was intended.’
In the clip of the interview that sparked the outrage, King asks Leslie: ‘It’s been said that his legacy is complicated because of a sexual assault charge. Is it complicated for you as a woman, as a WNBA player?’
‘That’s just not the person that I know,’ Leslie said.
‘It’s not complicated for me at all. Even if there’s a few times that we’ve been at a club at the same time, Kobe’s not the kind of guy, never been, like, ‘Lis, go get that girl, or tell her, or send her this’.
‘I have other NBA friends that are like that. Kobe, he was never like that.’
King then probed further with her follow-up comments, saying: ‘But Lisa, you wouldn’t see it, though. As his friend, you wouldn’t see it.’
‘And that’s possible,’ Leslie said. ‘I just don’t believe that.’
King asked if it was ‘even a fair question to talk about’ the accusation, ‘considering he’s no longer with us and that it was resolved,’ or if it is ‘really part of his history.’
Leslie said the media ‘should be more respectful at this time.’
‘If you had questions about it, you’ve had many years to ask him that. I don’t think it’s something that we should keep hanging over his legacy.’
Among those who were critical of King’s line of questioning was rapper 50 Cent.
‘What is this, wait somebody gotta help me understand why they keep doing this,’ he wrote. ‘I apologize for my language in advance let’s talk about this.’
The rapper posted a video clip in which he said: ‘That’s not complicated. You just said it was dismissed… Then how would you see it, Gayle? How the f*** would you see it, f***?’
Twitter user @thehoracetowns simply stated that journalists ‘lack class.’
‘Gayle King and Oprah seem to go after certain stories without class, but ignore the stories involving their Hollywood friends,’ he wrote. ‘You bring up something about Kobe right after his death for ratings or relevance? Kobe Bryant has passed away’
Another twitter user was furious that the allegations had been brought up in the wake of Bryant’s death.
‘Harvey Weinstein is still alive but Gayle rather ask old rape allegation questions about a man who just died last week?’ wrote @Cookiebaby23.
User @CokeDir wrote: ‘King had MANY years to ask Kobe Bryant about the whole sexual assault case.’
‘Too soon for that s***,’ he continued. ‘Let the legend Rest In Peace. Smh.’
The criminal case against Bryant was dropped in September 2004 after the accuser declined to testify.
The previous month, the woman filed a civil lawsuit, which was settled out of court on March 2, 2005, the details of which have never been made public.
Bryant allegedly asked the young woman, a concierge at the hotel Bryant was staying, for a private tour. After the tour, Bryant invited the woman to his room where they began kissing.
Bryant said they had consensual sex but the woman said it was rape.
The woman later reported the alleged rape, with authorities finding bruises on her neck and tears to her vaginal wall.
Flanked by lawyers and his wife, Vanessa Bryant, he admitted to committing adultery but maintained his innocence at the allegations at a press conference. He later entered a not guilty plea.
After the criminal case’s dismissal, Bryant issued a public apology to the woman.
‘First, I want to apologize directly to the young woman involved in this incident. I want to apologize to her for my behavior that night and for the consequences she has suffered in the past year. Although this year has been incredibly difficult for me personally, I can only imagine the pain she has had to endure,’ he said.
‘Although I truly believe this encounter between us was consensual, I recognize now that she did not and does not view this incident the same way I did. After months of reviewing discovery, listening to her attorney, and even her testimony in person, I now understand how she feels that she did not consent to this encounter.
‘I issue this statement today fully aware that while one part of this ends today, another remains. I understand that the civil case against me will go forward. That part of this case will be decided by and between the parties directly involved in the incident and will no longer be a financial or emotional drain on the citizens of the state of Colorado.’
Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others died in a helicopter crash on January 26. The nine victims also included: John Altobelli, a baseball coach at Orange Coast College, his wife Keri and their daughter Alyssa; basketball coach Christina Mauser; Sarah Chester and her daughter Payton; and the pilot Ara Zobayan.
Disney heiress Abigail Disney shared 24 tweets following his death where she doubled down on her stance about the Los Angeles Lakers all-star’s past, but admitted she still ‘mourned’ him. She first addressed Bryant’s rape allegations in a tweet four days after he died, writing: ‘The man was a rapist. Deal with it.’
Others who have highlighted Bryant’s rape allegations have received overwhelming backlash.
Actress Evan Rachel Woods received intense condemnation after sharing a tweet about Bryant on the day he died. ‘I am heartbroken for Kobe’s family. He was a sports hero. He was also a rapist. And all of these truths can exist simultaneously,’ she said.
A Washington Post reporter was also suspended from her job for tweeting a link to a past article that examined Bryant’s case.